How Does Massachusetts Define OUI or DUI?
Massachusetts defines OUI (Operating Under the Influence) as operating any type of vehicle on a public way while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Many states call the charge for drunk driving or driving while on drugs a DUI, which is Driving Under the Influence, or DWI, which is Driving While Impaired. In Massachusetts, a drunk or drug-related driving charge is called OUI, which stands for Operating Under the Influence. An OUI can involve a car or any other type of vehicle. It can take place on a road or highway, but it can also take place on side streets or any other place where the public has a right of access (including parking lots).
A key element of the definition of OUI is “operating”. This term is not relegated to simply driving a car, which is the usual way that people tend to think about DWIs and DUIs. For example, if you are sitting in your car at the roadside and you have the key in the ignition to keep the radio and the AC on, it still technically qualifies as operation of the vehicle in Massachusetts. If you intentionally manipulate anything mechanical or electrical that could set the vehicle in motion, you are considered to be “operating” the vehicle. So if you manipulate your car’s controls at all while you’re on a public way and you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you would technically be liable for an OUI.
It should also be noted that being “under the influence” doesn’t necessarily mean that you are falling down drunk. As a baseline, all it means is that your alertness and your reflexes are impaired to some extent, to the point where you cannot drive safely. Furthermore, an OUI charge doesn’t even necessarily require a person to be driving unsafely in a visible way. For example, let’s say you were driving in a way that raised no red flags, but got pulled over for something unrelated, like a broken taillight. If you were asked to take a Breathalyzer test and blew above an 0.08, you would still be liable for an OUI charge.
I Was Charged With OUI/DUI In Massachusetts. What’s Going to Happen to My Driver’s License?
The consequences for your driver’s license if you’re arrested for an OUI in Massachusetts depends on a number of different factors.
If this is your first offense and you fail a Breathalyzer test, your license will be suspended automatically for at least 30 days. If you are in the same scenario and you refuse to take the Breathalyzer test, your license will be suspended for at least 180 days before you can apply to have it reinstated by the RMV. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should take the breath test if you’ve been arrested for OUI.
If you’ve been previously convicted for OUI and are arrested for that charge again, the consequences for your license are much more serious. Generally, you will face a much longer suspension of your license, and your license may not even be reinstated until the conclusion of your OUI case or until you can apply for a hardship license, either of which could take years.
Is an OUI/DUI Charge a Misdemeanor or a Felony in Massachusetts?
A first offense OUI is considered a misdemeanor, but it does come with some serious consequences. For example, if you’re convicted of an OUI in Massachusetts, you could face up to 2 ½ years in the county jail or House of Corrections. In addition, you will likely face fines, fees, license suspension and mandatory driving classes and/or drug and alcohol treatment programs.